Thursday, June 14, 2018


No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.
~Robert Frost

This week, I used a prompt by Diane Lockward where she suggests using "April Incantation" by Maggie Dietz as a springboard. "April Incantation" isn't online so I can't share the ending, but here's the beginning:

April Incantation
by Maggie Dietz

O wrathful rain roll down
and down. Outwit the drains,

unground us. Wind and thunder,
steer the torrent’s train and throw

us under. Upriver, water, rage
and rack the dam to shatter. Blast

the happy poppies. Let petal-
blood trouble the flooded field.

Crack new bourns and boundaries
into parceled plots. Wreck even

the season that reared you: lick
the lilacs into sobbing heaps...


Here's my poem. Dietz's poem is pretty intense so that was what I had in mind, and I think the end result is kind of scary.*

Hunger Incantation
by Tabatha Yeatts

O thunderous maw, open!
Demand feeding, insist on

drenched sponge cake, laden
with preserves pulped within an

inch of their lives, ones that stick
to the spoon like they are grabbing

the cliff's edge with slippery hands.
Stuff yourself with upside-down cake,

shoving the juice-suffused rings in
with your single-minded fingers,

then the golden slabs that you swallow
dry, like a compactor crushing

a junkyard car, then the crumbs,
all that's left, crumbs that fall apart

between your teeth and leave
only your fingers to bite.


* Dietz's poem brings "I" in at the end and Lockward's prompt suggested that we do that, but I wasn't feeling it for my poem. My inspiration might have been someone, say a political party, who conjures an evil that devours them in the end, and maybe even a non-me narrator "I" wasn't a part of that. (Of course, you can take this poem any way you like, Dear Reader. Your interpretation is as good as mine.)

Karen Edmisten has the Poetry Friday round-up. Thanks, Karen!


Kay said...

As I read your Hunger Incantation, I had in the back of my mind an article on childhood hunger (especially school children who hunger through the summer because of the lack of school lunches and my own experience serving lunch to families in our community's summer lunch program. The contrast with the strong images in your poem packs a punch.

Linda B said...

Even 'within an inch of their lives' provokes thoughts of a strange spell, some horrific feeling that forces the hunger. Interesting to read Kay's comment, too. My first thought brought the memory of a nephew, adopted from Korea at age 5, who was fearful for a long time that the food would go away. Nicely done challenge, Tabatha.

Michelle Kogan said...

You paint a very vivid-visceral image Tabatha, Hunger is just that, and truth is scary, thanks!

Linda Mitchell said...

OK, I'm likely in the minority here, I read this poem as a parody. I was imagining a satire-like gorging. Perhaps I'm closer to your idea of a greedy political party. Sigh. I can't seem to get away from the grotesque-ness of greedy, sloppy, feeding all around us.

Irene Latham said...

Oh wow, vivid! Love how gobbling the language is, Tab -- well done! And may we never know such hunger... and be compassionate to those who do. xo

Linda said...

I love your vivid imagery. Your poem reminds me of when I was a child. We didn't have much food in our house, and luxuries like cake was rare so we would immediately gobble it up. : ) Great poem, Tabatha.

Books4Learning said...

I laughed at your last line! So clever. I love how you take an every day activity of eating and make it so passionate. Wonderful imagery.

jama said...

Wow -- your poem practically devoured me. I did see a symbolic meaning to it, similar to what you mentioned. I guess I see most things through the lens of politics these days, even if I don't want to.

Mary Lee said...

I'll take your interpretation!

Matt Forrest Esenwine said...

I love that your poem has a couple of levels to it, but I especially enjoyed the preserves sticking to the spoon like they're holding onto the edge of a cliff...nice!

Kathryn Apel said...

Such strong word choices, Tabatha - both for the sound and flow of words, and also for the images portrayed. A wonderful use of a poetry prompt!

Also - now that I am finally home (because my PF post went up when I was almost-home - but not true-home...) I have finally seen, held and opened (but not fully read!) 'Imperfect'. Thank-you!! Looking forward to reading and sharing! :)

Diane Mayr said...

No real nourishment from that cake, is there? Lots to think about lately, and I'm afraid much of my thinking involves the total annihilation of one particular glutton. What have we become?

Karen Edmisten said...

Oh, I think your interpretation is right on target, Tabatha. Accurately, sadly on target.

Impressive and intense take on that challenge!